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Celtics crush depleted Nets

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Jayson Tatum scored 31 points as the Boston Celtics put the depleted Brooklyn Nets firmly in their place with a brutal 139-96 mauling in the National Basketball Association.

The heavyweight clash between the two Eastern Conference rivals ended with the Nets reeling on the ropes as the Celtics laid down a marker with an emphatic wire-to-wire victory at the TD Garden.

Boston dominated from the outset, running up a remarkable 46 points in the first quarter alone, with Tatum contributing 18 points.

By halftime, the Celtics had raced into a 34-point lead against a Brooklyn side still missing the injured Kevin Durant.

Tatum’s 31-point haul included seven three-pointers from 12-of-19 shooting while Jaylen Brown provided scoring support with 26 points.

Six Boston players finished in double figures after a lopsided rout.

Kyrie Irving led the Brooklyn Nets scoring with 20 points.

“A couple of days off did us good, we felt refreshed,” Boston star Tatum said afterwards.

“We have depth and a next-man-up mentality.”

Tatum reserved special praise for Robert Williams III, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.

“On any given night, Rob might be the most important guy to our long-term success,” Tatum said.

“To get to where we want to get to, we need Rob on the floor and we need him healthy.”

Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers bounced back from their upset loss to the Orlando Magic on Monday with a comprehensive 105-94 defeat of the Florida club.

The Sixers had been on a roll heading into Monday’s game with seven straight wins, but somehow squandered a 21-point advantage to crash, 119-109.

A scheduling quirk meant the Sixers did not have to wait long to avenge that loss, and Philadelphia duly seized the opportunity on Wednesday.

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